Albany selected to host America East men’s, women’s basketball championships

Posted May 03, 2012, at 9:20 p.m.

The University of Hartford’s recent stranglehold on hosting the America East Conference basketball tournaments is over, at least for one year.

America East on Thursday announced that the league’s athletic directors have chosen the men’s and women’s championships to the University at Albany in 2013.

The tournament’s first-round, quarterfinal and semifinal contests will be played March 7-10, 2013, at UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena, a 4,538-seat facility on the school’s campus. The championship games in both men’s and women’s play are held the following Saturday, March 16 on the home courts of the highest remaining seeds.

It will mark the fourth consecutive year that America East has held the women’s and men’s tournaments concurrently at the same venue. The league said almost 43,000 fans have attended during that time frame.

Albany previously was the site for the 2009 men’s basketball tournament and attracted nearly 15,000 fans, the second-most since 2002. The Great Danes also hosted the 2012 women’s championship game against Maryland Baltimore County, which had the largest crowd (2,408) since 2006.

University of Maine athletic director Steve Abbott said Albany’s previous success as a host and its financial offer made it an excellent choice for the tournament.

“Albany put in a very aggressive bid financially, which I think was attractive to a lot of people,” Abbott said. “Albany has a proven track record of doing an outstanding job hosting the tournament.”

Hartford had been the site of the America East women’s tournament 10 times since 1996, including 10 of the last 11 seasons.

America East officials also were quick to praise the job done by the folks at Hartford.

“They both put in excellent bids and Hartford’s done a tremendous job hosting the tournament,” Abbott said.

He conceded UMaine is not in position to submit a bid to host the tournament with its present situation because the men’s hockey team is still competing and could be playing a Hockey East playoff series on the same weekend.

Abbott said while having the tournament on campus is not likely, even after the Memorial Gym renovations, UMaine could host for basketball at other venues.

“Given new facilities that are slated for Bangor (Bangor arena) and Portland (renovations to the Cumberland County Civic Center), we might have the opportunity to do it,” said Abbott, who believes UMaine has a large enough fan base to have strong crowds at such games.

Hosting the tournament has resulted in a solid home-court advantage on the women’s side. The Hartford women won the title on their home court five times in 10 tournaments.

UMaine and Vermont each hosted three times since ’96, with the Black Bears taking all three championships and Vermont winning once. Binghamton did not prevail the year it hosted (2007).

Among the men’s programs, there is a much different dynamic. The school that has hosted the first three rounds of the postseason have only advanced to the championship game twice in 17 tries since 1996.

However, the team that earned home court for the title contest, by virtue of being the highest remaining seed, has captured 15 of the last 17 championships. Only former member Delaware accomplished that feat in 1998 and ’99.

Stewart on Canadian U21 team

Holly Stewart of the University of Maine field hockey team has been named to the Canadian Women’s Junior National U21 Team.

The freshman from North Vancouver, British Columbia, who was the America East Co-Rookie of the Year last fall, will play on a junior national team that will travel to Argentina this month. The Canadians will play teams from Argentina and Chile in an event that serves as a qualifier for the 2013 Junior World Cup.

If Stewart sticks on the Canadian Women’s Junior National Team, she will play September 7-23 in the Junior World Cup at Guadalajara, Mexico.

Bodine earns all-state honor

Lauren Bodine, who will attend UMaine on a basketball scholarship, has been chosen for the Kentucky All-Stars girls basketball team.

The 5-foot-8 guard was one of 12 players to earn a spot on the squad, which was selected via tryouts.

Bodine averaged 6.4 points per game for duPont Manual High School in Louisville, Ky., helping the Lady Crimsons go 37-2 and win a state championship. The Kentucky All-Stars take on Indiana in a June 8 game at Freedom Hall in Louisville and a June 9 contest in Indianapolis.

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